Edward Snowden: A Global Conversation on the Balance between Civil Liberties and Mass Intelligence Gathering

I found this interview of Edward Snowden organised by the University of Chicago, USA interesting.  I observed how the interviewer interpreted what he was saying, what questions arose in the questioners mind, how Edward responded and modelled democratic discourse. He is both articulate and respectful in his demeanour and compelling in his ability to laterally convey the deeper issues that are not structured in analytical memory but intellectual focus. He is rare in a world of sound bytes that does not appear to fathom the reality that has been laid at the feet of a society that fears being singled out and speaking up in the name of democracy.  I find that interesting given they have grown up in a world that frames itself as democratic, yet very few live this principled social democratic promise silently conveyed by the Statue of Liberty in New York harbour.

It has relevancy for myself as I learn to speak up in response to inner urgings to speak truth, to become visible, to articulate responsibility, empathy and advance principles people regard as nuanced rather than the actual drivers of a democratic society.  I have heard a few narratives of those who have had the courage to speak up for fairness, courage and openness in the face of public ridicule, personal danger or the risk of having their lives destroyed and families harmed.  This is because they have chosen to challenge the emperor in its many guises, they have chosen to move out of conformity with the control paradigm that silently asserts negative consequences for stating the emperor has no clothes when we speak the truth of what we see, hear, feel and intuitively know.  I understand deeply the idea of an informed public that can respond with informed consent to governance rather than the dumbing down of a society to ensure they do not find their own empowerment.  People are afraid they have no power, yet in truth the reality is they have unlimited power when they teach by their own example.  It is indeed to come together and discuss these issues rather than dividing into camps of traitors and heroes which is akin to the ‘good guy versus bad guy’ view of the world.  Albeit you are either with us or against us.  Inherent within this is the perception of an enemy. Yet in truth the real enemy is ignorance, greed, guilt and fear.  I would call these the four horsemen.  There is no enemy in my worldview when democracy is a lived experience.  The problem with these large government intelligence organisations is that they are military, and this paradigm is about command and control, it regards diverse viewpoints as dissent, opposition that obstructs their agenda.  The mindset would operate in a viewpoint of ‘with us or against us’. Whereas democracy would take in their viewpoint but make space for other viewpoints as the very philosophy many say they fight for is about freedom of speech rather than silence that shuts down opposition.  In my worldview there are only teachers.  I am against no-one.  I am for the principle, the virtue, the unity that underpins happiness.  This is the freedom for all. This is where I see myself in the other.  Yet this type of narrative is a mere wafer in terms of social norms and common understandings. 

I really enjoyed his narrative and I can feel intelligencia would be seen as the real threat, yet as I write this I smile as I know it is not true at all.  Just a bundle of thoughts as Eckhart Tolle would state.  We give such weight to thinking, yet feeling is the direct path to freedom.  To become a whistle blower requires great heart.  I saw the kindness in his eyes and the sensitivity to the other as he critiqued in a way that did not humiliate or demean the professor. I really liked his approach.  He is indeed a peacemaker.  I felt that deeply.  The way of the intellectual is the way of kindness, truthfulness, openness, generosity, inclusivity, and communicating in a way that leads others to expand their view of their world into something offered as greater.  The potentials or infinite possibilities were presented as he does not seek to change society but offers society the choice of change.  This is a true democrat.  I can see why those who have reacted intensely against him regard him as a threat, for the greatest freedom has been modelled in Edward Snowden.  I laughed at the fear of the professor of others he regarded as believing they know better than the government who choose to blow the whistle on wrongdoing.  He has no idea how hard it is to stand out against what is perceived as the status quo and to challenge those with power in a situation where others will just follow the leader as they have been taught rather than speak up in equality.  For this is the key reason why others don’t, they do not regard themselves as equal to those in power, they believe they are a lot less and this is their greatest fear, to have this realised.  Edward Snowden shines like a beacon to say you can be a light on the hill, you can be a holder of a torch, you can be blind to bias, you can learn to speak the truth and to see with clarity.  For when values align within the vista expands over the horizon.   The powerlessness and suffering that arises from vilification is due to the belief that the other is right.  I get this today.  I could never have understood unless I stood up and said what I felt was true and have it met with attitudes of power that diminish the human rights of those they believe have no value.  I learned more than I could ever learn in a degree from my own life experience. I loved that Edward saw his life not in Russia but travelling extensively around the world.  This is a clear mind that sees the big picture.  I found his continual analysis really interesting as he assessed the media and their approach to such an important subject. I saw their anchors like gladiators in a Roman coliseum trying to kill what they fear, the crowds (audiences) waiting for the blood shed from the safety of their grand stand rather than recognising real power does not need to bleed to lead, it is about leading by example without any bloodshed or revolution, it is about evolution.  That to participate is the real freedom. Those locked in patterns of receptivity without action are merely observers of the final act in this play.  That is what I feel and see.

so here is the interview at the University of Chicago that inspired this blog.  I thank Edward Snowden for being a light in the darkness. May their be other lights in the CIA, NSA, ASIO, ISI, Mossad and the various intelligence agencies in the world. May intelligence truly arise as our shared humanity that sees national interest as the public interest. It matters not if people reside in democratic systems or any other format. We are one world and until we get this, we will continue on our destructive path to the bottom. Each votes by their actions in truth.  How are you voting and what are you voting for? Your vote cast becomes a possible future.  When you vote with humanity all will win, when you vote for self interest all will lose, including you.  So in truth their is really only one way that sustains humanity on the balance of probabilities and that is love, this is the energy that creates worlds. Love is truth and it is the truth that sets you truly free. I wonder what world you will create?



Mohandas Gandhi

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”